Leksie Boese is no stranger to fighting for her place.
Born with a hole in her heart, the now 25-year-old needed a feeding tube for four months as a baby to grow strong enough for open-heart surgery.
When Boese wanted to join the military in 2017, she had to fight for that too.
“I just thought it would be super cool to serve and give back to our country,” said Boese, who lives in Bismarck, North Dakota. “It actually took me three years to get into the military because I have some medical stuff that I had to get cleared.
“I tried to get into the Army and they just flat-out refused me.”
Finally, after proving herself physically and medically, Boese joined the ranks of the North Dakota Air National Guard in February of 2020.
“I swore in and then a bunch of stuff got cancelled. So, then I had to wait a long time before I could actually leave for all the training because of COVID,” said Boese, who works in aviation resource management.
With several years under her belt now, the senior airman with the 119th Wing out of Fargo is happy to be serving her community.
“Just helping other people is what I thrive off of,” Boese said.
That’s why she’s also studying for her master’s in speech-language pathology at the University of Mary.
Speech-language pathology ‘fascinating and rewarding’
A passion for special education combined with watching her grandma recover from a stroke six years ago has led to a career path.
“I sat in with her on all the speech therapy. Relearning how to eat, relearning how to talk. Relearning all those different things. I just thought that was so fascinating and rewarding,” Boese said.
Boese will start a 15-week internship with Sanford Health’s speech-language pathology team in Bismarck at the beginning of 2024. Then in April, she’ll graduate with her master’s degree.
“My big thing right now is finding a job that can help me pay off my student loans,” Boese said.
“I definitely am very thankful for the scholarship.”
The scholarship Boese is referring to is the Sanford Health Military and Veteran Scholarship she recently earned.
“When I saw that it was $5,000, I was like whoa!” Boese said.
Sanford supports military, veterans with annual scholarship
The scholarship honors those who have furthered their own progress and enriched the lives of others, especially in service, academics and community involvement.
“Sanford Health always believes in the investment of educating our future leaders and recognizing those who have or are currently serving in the military,” said retired U.S. Navy Capt. Paul Weckman, Sanford Health head of military and veteran affairs.
“Leksie’s application immediately rose to the top due to her demonstrated leadership, military service, academic grades, community service, empathy towards others and strong work ethic. She is a true servant that fits perfectly into the whole person concept.”
While Boese applied for the scholarship, she didn’t know she landed the funds until Weckman and her family popped in one day at school. Her grandparents even came from Montana to celebrate.
“I was definitely surprised. I had no idea that was happening,” said Boese, presented with the scholarship in front of teachers and classmates.
The scholarship will bring some relief to her pocketbook and encouragement to fulfill her dreams.
“I think it’s a good balance between supporting community but also people who are fighting for the community,” Boese said about Sanford Health’s commitment to being a provider and employer of choice for military service members and veterans.
Boese’s upcoming internship at Sanford will have her working with adults for nearly two months followed by working with children.
Four scholarships awarded in 2023
Three additional students are receiving the same $5,000 scholarship. They are Claire Baustian (St. Catherine University), Seth Druin (University of South Dakota) and Ellise Otheim (South Dakota State).
Applicants must be a veteran, Guard/Reserve or active-duty military service member and a full-time student pursing a community college/vocational, bachelor’s, graduate or professional degree from an accredited U.S.-based institution of higher education. They must also have at least one full year of education remaining.
The scholarship got underway in 2018 as part of Sanford Health’s efforts to serve veterans and military personnel through patient care, employment opportunities and community outreach.
A call for applications typically takes place from June to September.
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